The largest country in area on the European continent, Ukraine has not had it easy over the past two decades, but things are looking up. Following the 1991 declaration of independence from the former U.S.S.R., the republic suffered a nine-year recession, in which 60% of GDP was lost and inflation soared to five-digit rates. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996, and by 2000 the economy started to recover.
However, Ukraine once again went through an unstable period during the 2004 elections, which led to the peaceful ‘Orange Revolution’ that saw Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko ultimately defeat Viktor Yanukovych. In the 2010 elections, however, Mr. Yanukovych was elected President, heralding a new era of political stability.
|UNDER THE YANUKOVYCH ADMINISTRATION, UKRAINE’S ECONOMY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ARE ENJOYING INCREASED SUCCESS|
Economically, Ukraine was drastically affected by the recent global recession – GDP contracted by 15% in 2009 – although significant structural reforms and strong pre- and post-crisis growth mean that the economy has enjoyed average annual growth of over 5% between 2005 and 2010.
While economic and political instability in the recent past have marred the republic’s reputation abroad, Ukrainian leaders are determined to portray a positive image, highlighting investment opportunities across a wide range of sectors, a serious commitment to stamping out corruption with ground-breaking reforms, and strong bilateral relations with both Eastern and Western powers (including the European Union, the U.S., Russia and China).
Indeed, relations between the U.S. and Ukraine have never been closer and the latter plays a key role in U.S. foreign policy objectives due to its strategic position between Europe and Eurasia. On a visit to Ukraine last year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Our strategic partnership is very deep, and it’s broadening and strengthening.”